Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ty's Graduation Cake - 2016

Ty's graduation party was in the making. I had already created and delivered the invitations.   I was also slowly collecting party favors, but what I really needed to be thinking about was what to serve for dessert.  Plan A was to attempt to make graduation cap cake pops! But truth be told, Ty loathes chocolate, so I wasn't sure they would be a big hit for him.  Since it was HIS party, I had to come up with plan B.  I asked him what he would prefer and he said, "Whatever is easiest for you mom!" How sweet. I chose to make a cake, so I didn't listen to him. Cakes can be easy IF you make them ALL the time, but I don't.  I decided to make a 3 dimensional, graduation cap, cake.  I have taken several cake classes in the area.  I knew I could do it, but the last time I made a cake, like this, was 3 years ago. I recall staying up to the weeeeeee hours of the morning and putting on the finishing touches hours before the party.  THAT. WAS. NOT. FUN. SO...I chose, this time around, to do the cake in stages.  

First up, I baked 6 layers of cake. I have a cake recipe that I use for my cupcakes.  I did mounds of research when my twins were turning 1 and I have never looked for another recipe. Sorry... I don't share the recipe though.  Are you mad? Please don't be.2) of the layers were baked using the Wilton's Dome Pan.  This pan would create the look of the bottom of the graduation cap.  
I made two of these just incase I messed ONE up. Possibly a waste of cake, but I knew it would be wise for "emergencies."
Uncookied: Above
Cooked: Below
Then, I made (2) 6" round cakes.  
I wasn't sure if I would need this size or not, but I had left over cake batter, so I made them just incase I wanted the cake to have more height. Look how beautiful the baked cake turned out. #flawless
I also made (2) 10" round cakes.  If you make your cakes up to a week in advanced, that's perfectly FINE, but you will need to freeze them. BE SURE to wrap them really well.  I wrapped them first in regular sarawrap and then I added an extra layer of protection by covering them with the Glad cling wrap. I have to say, all of the research I did on this technique held true.  This cake was by far the more moist cake I have EVER eaten.  These cakes were made 8 days in advanced and you would NEVER know it.
I wanted the end result to be a surprise, but this handsome bunny really wanted to help me make frosting so bad.  At first, I was hesitant because I didn't want him eating it all, but he was SOOOOOO helpful.  We made 4 batches in about 22 minutes.  NO LIE!
I got my social media friend's recipe, SimplyGoodThings. I made the frosting about 5 days in advanced.  You need to follow her on Instagram.  Her recipe called for powdered sugar, butter, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla extract.  It was by far the best frosting I have ever tried.
I was fearful of the frosting looking yellow because I use butter.  I usually use crisco creating a crisp white look. I wanted the cake to be pure white, but SimplyGoodThings said it would still be a nice white color. I also forgot that I was going to be covering the cake in fondant, so it didn't really matter.  I made 4 batches of frosting.  Necessary? NO! I really only needed about 2-3 batches, but I did know that until NOW.  I just couldn't chance running out of frosting during assembly. If you make your frosting in advance, store your frosting in an air tight container, in the back of your refrigerator. This will only last about a week.
Next up, time to make some marshmallow fondant.  This was my first time EVER making fondant and I was honestly terrified of messing it up.  So, I did tons of research, aka, youtube watching, google searching, and SimplyGoodThings texting back and forth and I decided to use this recipe.  I made the fondant about 6 days in advanced.  I made ONE black batch that INCLUDED the ready made black fondant and ONE batch that did not include any ready made fondant.  TRUST ME... follow her recipe to a "T" and you will be 100% fine.  The batch I made, without the ready made fondant, was almost a flop, until I contacted SimplyGoodThings (at midnight) and she gave me the perfect tip..."MICROWAVE IT!" 
After you finish making the fondant, if you are making it in advanced, be sure to wrap it tightly and store it in a dry, room temp room (not too hot, not too cold) and DEFINITELY NOT, in the fridge. If you do not wrap it properly, your fondant will harden and dry out.
The day before the party, I removed the cakes from the freezer and began immediately frosting them.  I call this a "crumb cake layer". I put the cakes in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. I pulled them back out and added another layer of frosting, for a total of two layers of frosting.
I covered them with a cake transporter and put them back into the refrigerator UNTIL I was ready to assemble and decorate with fondant.
I am so thankful I did all of the above 5-7 days in advanced because assembly was a tad time consuming and slightly stressful. You will not see many details of assembly because my camera would have been smothered and covered in buttercream frosting and fondant, if so.
The only NON edible part of the cake was the bill of the cap! I purchased a small cake square from The Cook's Nook and covered it, first, in buttercream and then in black fondant.  
When I found this tassle, I squealed so loud in the store that I embarrassed myself. I was thrilled to find a tassle because I didn't want to have to make one out of fondant, but I was also so excited it was the right color... GLENVAR green.  Thank you Dollar Tree.
I covered the dome cake in black fondant.  I made a little button for the hat, layed the tassle down first, and then secured the button down. I just used buttercream to act as my "glue" to adhere it.  To cover up any visible cake on the bottom of the dome cake, I used some black satin ribbon. Adhere the bill to the dome cake with buttercream also.
I guess I could have stopped there, but I wanted more detail and of course I like to torture myself with challenges.  Why me?
The bottom layer was covered in white fondant, pressed with the Cake Boss impression mat, and green candy beads were inserted into each corner of the quilted impression. I just pushed them directly into the fondant.  I didn't adhere them with anything.  When assembling the cakes together, you will need a few wooden dowels.  Insert the dowels into each layer before stacking the cakes.  These dowels will hold the cake in place.
I found a "2016 Grad" "pick" at Michale's crafts, but I took it off the sticks and inserted it into the cake with toothpicks.  
 Ty was so impressed with how it turned out and that is truly ALL that mattered to me.
There were some flaws, but I hid them as best as I could.  I still have not mastered decorating the cake with fondant just yet. The fondant cracked a little, in some small places.  I used this technique to help hide the cracks.  I was hoping the quilted impression, on the cake, was a tad more visible too, but I am sure this is NOT the last time I will use the mat.
Let me know if you are about to make a similar cake and have any questions.  I know I used a ton of social media and internet resources to help me!! 
The party's staff was so impressed! They could NOT believe I was the baker!!! AND that is the best compliment I could have received that day! Haha. Goodbye Elementary School! Hello Middle School!!!